Preventative care is an issue you must be cognizant of regardless of your age, gender or status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leading diseases like strokes and cancer can affect you at any age. However, chronic diseases can often be prevented or treated in ways that are more efficient when preventative care steps are taken.
When considering preventative care, you must understand all of your options. Some forms of preventative care are only available in clinics, such as vaccinations and tests used to detect specific ailments. However, you can also improve your health by taking independent preventative steps outside of your doctor’s office or local clinic. For example, there are many ways you can improve the air quality and general safety of your home. You can also boost your immune system by practicing healthy personal habits. The tips below are among many you can follow to safeguard your health.
Keep Your Hands Clean
Germs are a leading cause of many illnesses. Therefore, you must reduce germ exposure as much as possible to maintain your health. You touch many objects and people each day. As you do so, your hands come in contact with germs and other unhealthy substances. Sources of germs on surfaces include but are not limited to the following:
- Feces – Feces can get on your hands when you change a child’s diaper or go to the toilet. A minute amount of feces can contain disease-causing bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.
- Body fluids – Body fluids, particularly mucus and saliva, can be laden with bacteria. If you sneeze, then small amounts of those fluids can get on the surfaces near you. When you touch those surfaces, the germs will be transferred to your hands.
- Raw meat – Raw meat can have trace amounts of feces on it from animals. It can also harbor unrelated bacteria. Therefore, a simple act like cooking meat in your kitchen can contaminate your home if you do not sterilize the area carefully after use.
- Secondary transference – Secondary transference occurs when someone or something other than you places germs on a surface. If you touch the surface after it has been contaminated, then you will pick up the germs. Secondary transference often occurs in public restrooms and other areas where groups of people congregate.
Washing your hands thoroughly several times throughout the day is the best way to limit your exposure to the germ sources above. In particular, you must wash your hands when handling contaminants like feces, raw meat and trash. To wash your hands thoroughly, follow this process:
- Wet both hands.
- Scrub your wet hands thoroughly on both sides with soap.
- Continue scrubbing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds after a lather has formed.
- Rinse the soap off your hands thoroughly.
- Dry both hands.
Avoid Allergens and Contagions
An allergen is a substance that can cause your immune system to misfire. Allergens are not always easy to identify. However, if you suspect you may have an allergy, then your doctor can test you for common allergic reactions. You can then remove the allergen from your home environment and potentially avoid it when outside your home. Exposure to the offending substance can cause symptoms like rashes, itchy skin, swelling at the contact site, breathing difficulties, sneezing and a runny nose. You can also ask your doctor about prescription medication to combat allergy reactions.
Avoiding contagions is an equally important part of preventative health care. To avoid contagions, you must try to stay away from people who are ill. This is especially important if you are a senior citizen. If you must care for someone who is ill, then wear a protective mask and wash your hands thoroughly each time you come in contact with the ill individual.
Maintain Good Air Quality in Your Home
If the air quality in your home is poor, then you will breathe in contaminants daily. Poor ventilation is a leading cause of in-home air pollution. If your home has a heating system that works using forced air, then the air is not drawn from outside. The re-circulation of the indoor air may not properly filter out contaminants. One way to improve the air quality in your home is to make sure all heating and air conditioning vents, filters and duct systems are clean.
When the weather permits, you can also improve the air quality in your home by opening your windows and doors to let fresh air into your home. Installing window fans can also help you to draw fresh air in and push stale air out. In so doing, you will expel dust and other debris that may otherwise impact your health negatively.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is beneficial for preventing the onset of many illnesses because your body strengthens and repairs itself while you sleep. According to the U.S. Department of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, consistent lack of sleep can increase your risk factors for illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Conversely, getting enough good quality sleep each night can boost your metabolism. A boosted metabolism will help your body maintain regulated blood sugar levels. You will also be more apt to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, getting proper sleep each night will help your body fend off various types of infections by keeping your immune system healthy.
The CDC recommends you get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Also, try to sleep at the same time each night. Increase your chances of quality sleep by avoiding alcohol and caffeine consumption in the evening. Also, remove sources of light and noise, such as televisions, from your bedroom.
Water performs several functions to keep your body working so you can perform daily activities. For example, it helps to keep your joints lubricated. It is also useful for flushing toxins and waste out of your body efficiently. Therefore, staying hydrated is one of the easiest and most important aspects of preventative health care.
On average, you need to drink between 90 and 125 fluid ounces of water per day. However, several factors can influence water intake needs, including age, activity level, weather, body weight and underlying medical conditions.
There are several ways to increase your daily water intake. Carrying a bottle of water with you at all times can encourage you to drink more water. You can also gradually begin substituting water for other beverages when thirsty. Additionally, you can make water more appealing by purchasing flavored waters or adding fruit slices to glasses of water for flavor and vitamins.